Chain Reaction is an interview show for Radio 4 where the interviewer chooses their subject, who then gets to choose their subject for the next show. It started off as a comedy thing, with comedians interviewing other comedians, but Stewart Lee changed that by asking to interview Alan Moore. This season, Frankie Boyle interviewed Grant Morrison, who interviewed Neil Innes, who interviewed Graham Linehan, co-creator of Father Ted, creator and writer of The IT Crowd and prolific Twitterer. Linehan chose to interview Adam Buxton, he of The Adam And Joe Show fame and more recently the wonderfully charming Adam And Joe radio show on BBC 6 Music and the Bug show. I am a big fan of both of these creators, so I was very lucky to grab two tickets to watch the recording of the radio programme.
The show was at Broadcasting House, where we haven’t been to since May 2010 for recordings for The Now Show and episodes of Clare In The Community, and there has been a lot of building work since then, which meant that I didn’t know where the entrance was, but it means that my wandering around led to me seeing Graham Linehan outside the main entrance, waiting to go in for the show. I didn’t bother him because I’m a shy, retiring chap.
The fact that two famous funny chaps were on the bill meant that the recording was a full house, with lots of people on standby tickets, which meant that people had to wait for over an hour to have it confirmed that they definitely couldn’t get in. I did feel a little sorry for them when we went through, but only a little …
The producer came out first to make some announcements and was surprisingly funny, with a dry sense of humour and delivery about the fire exits and turning off the phones. Then he got the two main men on stage, where they proceeded to talk honestly about everything for an hour – we could have listened for longer but Linehan was paying attention to time because he and Buxton were getting the same train back to Norfolk, where they both live.
Because the two gentlemen are both involved in the generation of comedic content, there was a lot of discussion about the nature of creativity and being productive and fighting procrastination and doing productive procrastination, such as watching videos about creativity. As a bit of a process nerd, I was fascinated listening to them and how they cope with self-doubt and worrying about being funny and being able to create new things, despite the fact that they have made lots of funny stuff that many people enjoy.
Buxton talked about how he is deliberately taking a step back from his regular assignments, such as Bug, to work out what he is doing and how he is doing it, instead of being reactive and commenting. There was a lot of great chat about working on your own and working with someone else – Linehan talked about working with Arthur Matthews and how, after Father Ted, they couldn’t write together after they had gone off to write other things with other people, Linehan on Black Books and Matthews on Hippies; Buxton talked about working with Joe Cornish and working on the TV show and how they did a lot on their own during the show because there was so much to do. Linehan asked him about how he feels about Cornish doing well and Buxton was very open about how he felt about certain things. He mentioned that Cornish had told Buxton that he was going to play the drug dealer in Attack The Block until Cornish used Nick Frost instead; he also talked about how surprised he was about the Star Trek 3 rumours because Buxton is a huge Star Trek fan and Cornish has poured buckets of scorn on the series. He’s happy for his friend but thought they would do stuff together in films, which hasn’t happened.
There was a lot of talk about Twitter and the internet and using it for work, with Buxton talking about interacting with a fan who had found his Edinburgh show uninteresting the night after Buxton had been particularly happy with the show and mistakenly gone on Twitter to see the praise; Buxton interacted with him on Twitter about it. There was also conversation that Linehan decided wasn’t worth broadcasting, shouting to the producer to ‘Cut all the fucking Twitter shit’ – Linehan isn’t a natural interviewer, which was part of the charm, and there were strange conversational cul-de-sacs and tangents, with both men enjoying each other’s company (they seem to have a prior connection in that Buxton’s wife used to work for a production company that Linehan used to work for back in the day), which is good when you consider they would be on the same train home together.
It was funny, charming, warm, open, interesting and insightful, and it was nice to hear the whole thing instead of the 30-minute edit that will be broadcast.